All during the GOP primary, Donald Trump eschewed the usual campaign functions of paid media (if you don’t count robocalls by racists) and get-out-the-vote effort in favor of Nuremberg style rallies that were given wall-to-wall coverage by local media. The effect was immense:
For every dollar Trump spent on advertising he received nearly $200 earned, that is, free, media. And most of that coverage was presented in infomercial style.
But there were voices, many of them right here on RedState, that warned Trump fans that the same media that were shamelessly fluffing Trump in the GOP primary would turn on him once he had the nomination. Now the data is in:
A whopping 91 percent of news coverage about Donald Trump on the three broadcast nightly newscasts over the past 12 weeks has been ‘hostile’, a new study finds.
The study, conducted by the conservative Media Research Center, found that not only has Trump received significantly more broadcast network news coverage than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, but nearly all of that coverage (91%) has been hostile, according to the study.
In addition, the networks spent far more airtime focusing on the personal controversies involving Trump, such as his treatment of women, than controversies surrounding Clinton, such as her email practices or the Clinton Foundation.
The study also found that this mess is largely one of Trump’s making.
Though neither candidate was necessarily celebrated, Clinton largely just stayed out of the line of fire.
“Even when they were critical of Hillary Clinton — for concealing her pneumonia, for example, or mischaracterizing the FBI investigation of her e-mail server — network reporters always maintained a respectful tone in their coverage,” the study found. “This was not the case with Trump, who was slammed as embodying “the politics of fear,” or a “dangerous” and “vulgar” “misogynistic bully” who had insulted vast swaths of the American electorate.”
The 2005 tape of Trump making lewd comments about women and other allegations of his mistreatment of women was by far the most covered topic, garnering 102 minutes of coverage. Questions about Clinton’s age and health and her personal email server were the next most covered topics, garnering 93 minutes combined.
“It doesn’t really surprise me, I think most people got the sense that this was a hostile place for Trump, the establishment media,” said Rich Noyes, director of research for the MRC. “I would say looking at the big picture, the Trump campaign and to a lesser extent Republicans in general wanted this to be a referendum on Obama … the Clinton campaign, the Democrats, once Trump was picked wanted this be a referendum on Donald Trump. Television news has for the past 12 weeks has been giving the Democrats the campaign they wanted.”
There is no media conspiracy here. Trump refused to keep his mouth shut and made himself the story even when the media were trying to cover the email scandal and Clinton Foundation fraud. And to some extent, the last paragraph in the pull-quote above is wrong if you include Donald Trump as part of the “Trump campaign.” Trump has always wanted the election to be a referendum on him, you can’t listen to any of his public utterances and not realize that salient fact. At times you can’t escape the feeling that he thinks if he is not the subject of media coverage, no matter the tenor of the coverage, then he has become irrelevant.
In the end we will see that earned media cuts both ways. Trump profited from the extraordinary level of free and unfiltered coverage in the primaries and now he’s suffering from the same. Karma.